The Born-Engineers



A Little Happiness Foundation rediscovers erstwhile artisans and works amongst them and their children. We work amongst that category of people who have given up their vagabond-life and have settled down in slums and shanties in towns and villages.

We focus on our key objective of providing education to the children of traditional artisans –the Sikligars –the born-engineers, who presently work as ironsmiths, lock- smiths, RCC workmen and shuttering mechanics. Such artisans are large in number and are spread all over the country.

Etymologically speaking, Sikligar is a Persian/Arabic word, comprising Saiqal+gar meaning, ‘polisher/burnisher/furbisher of weapons’. From weapon polishers, over the centuries, the Sikalgars or the Sikligars became weapon-makers.

Where did they come from? What is their origin? Have any anthropological studies been done? What is their present status? Where are they? What is their number? Will their traditional artisanship die out? Should it die? Can we utilize their skill- sets in any way? These and related questions form part of our enquiry and survey in various parts of the country.

The Sikligars living in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka know that “our fore-fathers were traditional weapon-makers, so are we and we have come from Nanded.” The Sikligars living in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi trace their origin to Rajasthan, though they too are more aware of their pre-British and post-British past only. Many have been living in various parts of pre-British Rajasthan, Punjab Multan and Sindh. Many more have been leading vagabond lives, travelling with families, far and wide, in search of food and work. A small number of them are still unsettled.

The National Commission for Minorities in India has compiled a report of their settlements in nearly 300 slums and near-slums, but the number of settlements is atleast twice as much.

Time and tide has snatched from them their armour and ammunition making skils, reducing them to repairing drums, buckets, making locks and keys and other agricultural implements, housing RCC work and the kind.

The Sikligars want to retain their skills but want education for their children too. They need a reasonable home and environment to live. They want a good future. They deserve it.

The Born-Engineers are likely to die. With the Grace of God and your cooperation, contributions and support, we will make certain they not only survive but grow and prosper.